Art: Respect for Works From Haiti

I appreciate the respect and interest the Los Angeles Times has for art and culture. Suzanne Muchnic and Christopher Knight display the utmost of professionalism when writing about art. This is why I want to take the opportunity to respond to a recent article by Carol Chastang, "Haitian Art Finds a Home at Galerie Lakaye," (May 19).

Even if this article is a profile on one gallery, it does not have to be at the expense of Haitian art. Haitian art warrants more respect and substance.

First concerning the title, Haitian art is not homeless and has been on the international market for the last 50 years. Prestigious public and private collections reside throughout the United States and Europe. New York's Museum of Modern Art is among one of many museums with Haitian art in their permanent collections. Major auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's have represented Haitian art on their blocks for the last 20 years.

Haitian art galleries and dealers throughout the world would be extremely offended to read that for the last 25 to 30 years they "just try to peddle the art." Here on the West Coast, and in particular Los Angeles, the exposure to Haitian art is minimal. It is crucial when articles are written that they are correct and fully researched.

The Galerie Lakaye is not a true gallery. One could call it a boutique where people enjoy hanging out because of the ambience, where people can buy posters, handicrafts, occasionally lingerie, children's clothing, jewelry, dishes and T-shirts. Whatever to make a buck. Occasionally, the Galerie Lakaye will organize a real exhibition with an artist such as Phillippe Dodard. These exhibitions are too rare for this boutique to earn the label gallery. Another thing: The words "Galerie" and "Lakaye" don't exist in Haitian Creole. "Gallery from back home" would be "Galeri Lakay." Haitian art, Haitian culture and Haitian Creole deserve more respect.


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